Parenting has never been the easiest task in the world, but it certainly doesn’t get any easier when dealing with a full-time job as well. For women in particular, managing the work-home balance can seem downright impossible,.
But according to a recent study, which is set to be published in the April 2015 issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, quantity really doesn’t matter as much as quality when it comes to spending time with young kids.
As the Washington Post reports, this study is the first “large-scale longitudinal study of parent time,” analyzing quantity and quality for time spent with young children (approximately ages three to 11). The study reportedly found that the amount of time spent with kids at a young age “has virtually no relationship to how children turn out” in terms of academic success, behavioral skills, and emotional stability during adolescence and adulthood.
This finding is particularly important for women, as Heidi Stevens notes in her recent Chicago Tribune article, because it provides supporting evidence that contradicts the traditional American stereotype of ideal mothers.
As Kei M. Nomaguchi, Kathleen E. Denny, and Melissa Milkie — the primary authors of the study — explained, “this ideology of intensive mothering… is pervasive in American culture, is central to the spirited debates over whether maternal employment harms children and is embodied in the ‘Mommy Wars,’ an alleged dispute between homemaker and employed mothers…”
So what exactly does “quality time” look like?
Stevens states that nearly any activity can be considered “high quality,” as long the parent(s) are fully present and are interacting with the child. Activities such as reading a book or eating a meal together often foster positive environments in the home that encourage learning and understanding.
“There are some very obvious benefits to parents and children reading together,” says Scotty Sanders, author of “Quest of the Keys.” “While reading, the parent and child are together in the same room free from distractions, the parent is able to model the importance of being a lifelong learner, and the parent can take advantage of teachable moments. I recommend books that contain strong character development components to allow children to learn skills for successful living.”
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that this particular study is the first of its kind, and that it doesn’t discredit the value that stay-at-home parents bring to a child’s well-being.